Disambiguation from the political and social musings of Jack Altschuler

rights

I Don’t Know Whether to Believe Justice Clarence Thomas


Now it’s your turn.

Friend, activist, Witness at the Border reporter and founder of Peaceful Communities, Lee Goodman, has a facility for clarity. While I’ve been beating the drum for center-and-left-thinking people to vote for quite a while, Lee’s recent essay is the best I’ve seen to communicate what’s at stake. Here it is as a Guest Essay. All emphasis is his except the last sentence of his post. That emphasis is mine.  JA

I’ve sprinkled throughout this guest essay pics from the White House Fact Sheet on what today’s Republicans want to do to you. This looks mostly at health related issues, but the same kind of Republican “screw you” attitude applies to infrastructure rebuilding, re-shoring of manufacturing and all the great jobs re-shoring will create and more. They offer only cutting anything that will help ordinary Americans and cutting taxes on rich guys. You know: trickle down economics that hasn’t trickled down for over 42 years. This is why you can’t vote for any Republican.


During oral arguments on a case challenging affirmative action, Justice Thomas said he didn’t “have a clue” what “diversity” means. Could he really be that stupid? Former President Trump’s behavior demonstrates that he has no idea what “decency” means. The campaign literature I have been receiving in the mail leads me to suspect that a whole lot of Republican candidates have no idea what “honesty” is. Leaders of the Republican party have shown that they don’t know what “civilization” means. The new owner of Twitter, who has given the green light to hateful incitement, doesn’t care what “responsibility” is all about. An entire political party that says it is “conservative” clearly doesn’t remember what that word means.

The right wing has discarded the vocabulary of normal human relations. It is rewriting the dictionary of political thought. Things that are not “people” are, to them, people. Intimidating folks by carrying assault rifles is peaceful demonstration. Riotous insurrection is free speech. Making it difficult to vote is democracy. Refusing to accept the results of elections is patriotic. Truthful reporting is “fake” news, while nonsensical conspiracy theories are revelation.

See the footnote* below.

Can so many people be out of their minds? Are we surrounded by idiots, oafs, and lunatics? Can it really be that our the Supreme Court is determined to eliminate fundamental rights and freedoms?

It was hard enough to accept over the years that there were places in our country that were behind the times, populated by intolerant religious zealots and ignorant bigots. It is harder to accept that their worldview may now have the support of the majority.

We are not just squandering our national heritage of accomplishment. We are engaged in dissembling our country.

Actually, they want to be able to eliminate those benefits EVERY YEAR.

I have never been more worried about an election. As in all prior elections, large numbers of registered voters will not vote. Those uncast ballots will decide who wins, just as much as the ballots that are counted. On the news last evening, I heard people say they would not vote because they don’t feel that the people in power are listening to them. I can’t think of a better way to guarantee that you won’t be listened to than to not say anything.

Our country is not alone. Demagogues and dictators are plentiful. Repressive regimes are thriving. People are fleeing danger in their homelands and are being expelled from the places where they seek refuge. The upbeat stories at the end of evening newscasts of firemen giving firetruck rides to sick children do not balance out the reports of drought, floods, famine, war, and other misery.

Despite what Clarence Thomas, Elon Musk, Mitch McConnell, Ron DeSantis, Gregg Abbott, Mike Pence, Alex Jones, Rudy, the pillow guy, and the rest of the Fox News alternative universe say, there is something called “reality.” There must be “dignity.” We cannot let greed, hypocrisy, hate, jealousy, and fear-induced fantasy destroy hope.

If you haven’t decided yet whether to vote, assume that the people you don’t want running your life already have.
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  • Lee Goodman can be reached at [email protected].
  • Click the logos for more.
  • ———————————–

“Don’t boo. VOTE!” – President Barack Obama

“Voting is what you’re going to do [this] Tuesday.” – JA

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*As he was headed out of Congress in 2004, 12-term congressman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) inserted a little addendum into George W. Bush’s thousands-of-pages-long Medicare Part D plan (which nobody read). It said that the government – Medicare – was prohibited from negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. Tauzin then left Congress and took a new job as president of PhRMA, the lobbying organization for Big Pharma. That gave him an increase in pay of 7,110% and ensured the highest cost of healthcare for seniors.

Extremely Late Addition

Friend Mardy Grothe publishes a weekly offering focused primarily on literature and language, always including memorable quotations. One offered today is from Scotty Reston of the New York Times that captures our solvable problem today:

“All politics is based on the indifference of the majority.”

Indifference simply isn’t an option today.

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Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:

Fire the bastards!

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town or neighborhood vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The 2022 Pond Scum Awards


Pond Scum Award #1

The 2022 Pond Scum Awards

Elon Musk put in a bid to buy Twitter some months ago. Then he tried to slime out of the deal when it didn’t look too good for him anymore. However, even in the face of right wing extremists constantly vaporizing integrity, good sense and reality, a contract is still a contract (for the moment). Musk and his co-investors ponied up the cash and Musk has already started the corporate executions. He did that right after his bathroom sink “look at me” stunt, apparently as if to say, “I bought it – let that sink in.” Turns out that does sink in – in a really personal way.

I have a day job delivering leadership keynotes and workshops. I do those in the lofty hope of ending the motivation for any employee to ever again utter that horrible, life sucking sentence, “My boss is a jerk.” If I keep this up long enough perhaps I’ll have made a modest dent with my Fully Alive Leadership offerings. Here’s the connection of that to the change in Twitter ownership.

David Hogg is a survivor of the horrific mass murders at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL and a spokesperson for Never Again.

I have Twitter accounts for both my leadership work and for these posts, both in the pursuit of reaching more people. Nobody knows if Twitter is useful in that way, but I do know that I don’t want to contribute in any way to Elon Musk inviting extremists to spew hatred, lies and vitriol. I want nothing to do with a platform that invites Donald Trump to further radicalize violent people and move us to abandon democracy and to embrace authoritarianism.

So, this is my last post to be linked to Twitter, as I will be closing my accounts there permanently.

Will Musk lose sleep over my exit from Twitter? Of course not. But I would lose sleep if I thought I were helping to enable evil that is unscrupulously masked as free speech.

CRITICAL DIFFERENTIATOR: The first amendment guarantee of free speech has to do only with preventing government from restricting our speech. It has nothing to do with Twitter or any other non-government public platform and the speech they allow or disallow. Those decisions are no more than company policies. None of us has a free speech right to publish on any of those platforms.

A boy and his sink enter Twitter HQ in San Francisco. It’s a proud moment for all plumbing.

So, Musk can make all the self-serving, self-congratulatory claims he likes about Twitter and free speech. That’s just a disguise for appealing to extremists in order to maximize his return on his dubious investment. And if his new Twitter handle is “Chief Twit” – he picked that – well, I agree. And he gets this 2022 Pond Scum Award.

Anyway, that’s what I sink.

Adios, Elon.

Pond Scum Award #2

My pal Jim Nathan is nothing if not an excellent unearth-er of great political commentary in the form of cartoons, pictures and clever statements. Here’s one he just sent to me:

Here you see a group of self-satisfied, ego-puffed Republicans congratulating themselves like a bunch of bratty high school juniors having successfully towel snapped all the freshmen boys in the locker room. These congressional embarrassments are so very proud that the only thing they accomplished (other than all the destruction, like trashing high speed mail sorting machines in order to slow down your mail service) was to give rich guys a huge tax cut and to stiff you.

Somebody has to explain to me why middle-class Americans would want to give power to these selfish dopes. These guys are so very worthy of their very own 2022 Pond Scum Awards.

Pond Scum Award #3

Here’s another pic from Jim:

First, that’s right. Second, a generation later your grandmother didn’t fight to be in charge of her own body just so you could sit at home in November, either.

The Pond Scummers shown in the pic in section #2 above are threatening to take away your freedoms, even all forms of birth control. There’s no telling how many more freedoms they will take away from you if they get their scummy hands on power. There is only one way to stop them, to prevent them from making you powerless:

You have to vote for people who will protect your freedom and your rights.
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You cannot count on any Republican to do that. They are unpatriotic and they are insane for power. They’re still lying about the 2020 election. They’re promoting idiotic child trafficking and cannibalistic child eating conspiracies. They are stupid-claiming that the only possible outcome in any election is that either they win or that Democrats cheated and stole the election.

These people are unpatriotic and they are insane. You must not vote for any Republican. Those guys are 2022 Pond Scum Award winners, all. Here’s why:

  1. Republicans have no ideas and no policies to tackle inflation or any other challenge. They have admitted this. They have abandoned you to struggle in the face of national challenges entirely on your own. This is literally true.
  2. Republicans are spineless sycophants of Trump who chicken out of speaking truth. They want to take away your freedom and your rights just so they can grab more power. And they spew hatred, racism and antisemitism every day. This is literally true.
  3. Republicans want to end our democracy and make this country a dictatorship – Seig Heil, Trump! That would make you a powerless peon. This is literally true.

And you don’t want any of that!

That’s why you have to vote for sanity. Vote for Democrats because:

  1. They aren’t hateful, hypocritical thieves and liars. They won’t pick your pocket and give your money to rich people and they won’t make your kids ignorant and stupid. This is literally true.
  2. They believe in democracy and will protect and defend it and the Constitution – just like you would. This is literally true.
  3. They have ideas and policies in place to make your life better. E.g. gas prices are already falling, major new job opportunities are on the way and your bridges and roads are already being repaired. Every Republican voted against all of this. This is literally true.

Go vote for Democrats, just as your great-grandmother, your grandmother and your mother want you to. Make their work and their sacrifices mean something enduring.

And the answer is YES! Pass this along to every voter you know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:

Fire the bastards!

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town or neighborhood vibrant.

JA

 


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Guest Essay: Elections Have Consequences


Boyhood pal, smart person and activist Frank Levy cares about justice, fairness, inclusiveness, freedom, rights and more. Come to think of it, he’s a lot like you in that way. That’s why I asked his permission to share his recent FB post about what we must do to make sure all those good things we care about actually are ours.

Just to be clear, Frank’s message is motivated by the destructive fact that Republicans consistently vote against all those things you care about. For example, they had to be shamed into passing the PACT Act to help our veterans harmed by exposure to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that happened after they first killed the bill. That’s a fact – the Republicans voted against our vets! That and so much more are why it’s mandatory to remove these anti-We-The-People politicians from public office.

Frank’s post follows. Read it slowly and let it sink in, because he’s right. And note his number “10”. He’s right about that, too.


Elections have consequences. Legal, untainted elections make a difference. If Hillary Clinton had won the presidency in 2016, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett would not be sitting on the Supreme Court and Roe would still be the law of the land. Elections have very real consequences.

If Joe Biden had not been elected, Merrick Garland would not be Attorney General and no one would be prosecuting the police officers who murdered Breonna Taylor.

There are JUST 86 DAYS until the November midterm elections.

If we are to have any chance of keeping our fragile and imperfect democracy alive, Republicans at all levels of government [the people who oppose what you support – ed.] must be soundly defeated in November.

If we are to have any hope of passing a national law allowing access to safe and legal abortion, Republicans must be defeated in November.

If we are to have any chance of passing meaningful and sensible national gun laws, Republicans must be defeated in November.

If we are to have any chance of expanding the Supreme Court, Republicans must be defeated in November.

If we are to have any hope of retaining the right to marriage equality, retaining legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, interracial marriage, access to birth control, the right to vote, and the right to free and fair elections, Republicans must be defeated at every level of government in November.

If we are to have any hope of living in a thriving, diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just America, each of us must do everything we can to ensure Democrats win state and local elections and increase their majority in the House and Senate.

Here are some things each of us can do to help ensure that Democrats defeat Republicans at every level of government on November 8, 2022:

  1. Make sure you are registered to vote.
  2. If you are not registered to vote, register to vote now.
  3. Make a specific plan to vote on November 8, 2022 or sooner depending on election laws where you live. [Now comes the “10” thing – Ed.]
  4. Convince 10 people you know who don’t normally vote to this time register to vote, to make a plan to vote, and to vote Democratic on November 8, 2022.
  5. Convince each of those 10 people to convince 10 of their friends who normally do not vote to, 1) register to vote; 2) to make a plan to vote; 3) and to vote Democratic on November 8, 2022. Easy as 1-2-3.
  6. Get involved with one or more of the national efforts listed below to get out the Democratic vote.

https://naacp.org/actions/power-your-vote
https://democrats.org/take-action/
https://www.rockthevote.org/get-involved/https://statesproject.org/
https://swingleft.org/


Ed. Notes
  1. Now that Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago hidey-hole and contraband warehouse have been searched by the FBI and sensitive government documents have been recovered and secured, the incitement to violence from elected Republicans and talking empty heads has exploded. So, too, have threats of violence from far right militants. Their self-righteous fantasies of 1776 won’t go away any time soon and their promises of savagery must be met with appropriate protections provided by the proper authorities. That means we need people who believe in the rule of law and who deploy those we count on, like the FBI and police. So that all of us will be safe, follow Frank’s advice and elect Democrats. Our children, grandchildren, our families and friends – we’re all counting on us.
  2. Extra Credit Questions: Some of the classified documents Trump stole are TS/SCI*, so critical to our national security, that neither the DOJ nor the National Archives is allowed to even catalog them. Like things that include the word “nuclear”. And Trump kept them in unlocked boxes in an unlocked, unguarded basement at unsecure Mar-a-Lago. What could possibly go wrong?  Here are some extra credit questions about that.
    1. In how many ways has Trump already imperiled our country by using these stolen documents as bargaining chips?
    2. What do you imagine he thinks he can get for them? To start your thinking, consider things like a Trump Tower in Moscow. Or Budapest. Or Pyongyang. Or Tehran. Or refuge for him and his crime family in a country with no extradition treaty with the U.S.
    3. Click me

      Explain why Americans who consider themselves super patriots would froth at the mouth and threaten to kill FBI agents, Democrats and election workers to put this (at best) careless, cheating  moron back in the White House. Earn 5 extra points for each of the following included in your answer: narcissist; authoritarian; despot; over 30,000 lies; “very fine people on both sides”; double-down; criminal; the wall; con-man; unpatriotic; insurrection; sedition; martial law; Mexican “drug dealers, criminals, rapists”; fraud; election interference; jail; autocrat; liar; Muslim ban; babies ripped from mothers’ arms; “my Negro”; infantile; “acting” cabinet appointees; private phone for classified conversations; prison; racist; traitor; money laundering; Russia; suck up; toadies; golf; fake electors; sycophants; thief; tantrums; “do us a favor, though”; “Mexico will pay for it”; high chair; “very stable genius”; Lafayette Square; alternative facts; American Carnage; grab women by the p###y; “losers” buried in Arlington National Cemetery; stopped-up toilet – “toiletgate”; Ivermectin and bleach; Big Lie; “But her emails“. Use ’em all for 250 extra points!

  3. !KANSAS! Read Ed Gurowitz’s take on the message to us from !KANSAS!
    1. Ed’s message comports perfectly with Frank’s.
    2. Hint: This isn’t about Dorothy or Toto and it’s more powerful than a twister, Auntie Em.
    3. Attention: Here’s a special message about Republicans from Oz (no, not Mehmet, the New Jersey carpetbagger in Pennsylvania) – watch this 7-second clip. Couldn’t resist.
Finally,

Here are two pics of a reservoir in northern Mexico. You can find pics of Lake Meade and other reservoirs in the U.S. that look just like these – because the west is in a drought of Biblical proportions, this as Kentucky drowns, as California burns and as coastal waters inundate ever more land. Be sure to show the pic to your climate warming denial friends, especially if they like to visit the west and southwest.

This crisis has been made possible by decades of Republican reality denial and obeisance to the fossil fuel industries. Also look here.

Many fossil fuel captured Republicans simply don’t believe in the reality of global warming and the catastrophes it creates, like how unlivable areas are when there is no water or too much water or fires or hurricanes or tornadoes. Optimistic you, you’re hoping tomorrow will actually happen and that’s why you’re going to vote for Democrats at every level.

Click the pic for the WaPo story.

From the Onion:

“If Trump can get investigated, then by that logic, that implies our country has laws and when those laws are broken, there are consequences. What kind of hell are we living in?”

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* TS/SCI means “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information.” Available only to those necessary to the project. Must be discussed, used, and stored only in secure locations. Its release to the public would cause “exceptionally grave” damage to our national security.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
.
Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Are You Seeing The Pattern Yet?


The people at the not-for-profit Citizens United were on a mission. They hated Hillary Clinton. A lot. They filmed what they called a documentary, Hillary: The Movie, and planned to release it in 2008 in an effort to submarine her candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency. They wanted to air their hit job film just prior to primary elections in the various states. But they had a problem.

One of the provisions of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly called McCain-Feingold) banned the airing of corporate funded “electioneering communication” for the 30 days before a primary election and for 60 days prior to a general election. The Citizens United people wanted to blanket the airways with their electioneering communication attack piece all the way through the primaries, so in December 2007 they filed suit to challenge that provision of McCain-Feingold. If they won, they would be able to run their electioneering film in the then-upcoming campaign season of 2008.

The district court refused their application for injunctive relief. In the appeals court Citizens United claimed their 90-minute film was a documentary, not electioneering. The court easily saw through that smoke screen and refused that argument, stating what was perfectly clear to everyone, that it was not a documentary film, but a 30-minute attack ad. It was an attempt to affect the election (the very definition of electioneering). Further, the court saw that their intended use of the movie was expressly at odds with established law.

On the case went to the Supreme Court (Citizens United v. FEC), which decided in favor of Citizens United in January 2010, overturning the lower court’s ruling. The court declared that the corporate electioneering communications restrictions of McCain-Feingold were unconstitutional and Citizens United could air their film as they wished. That should have been the end of the case, but it wasn’t.

Chief Justice John Roberts directed the attorneys to return to the court and re-litigate the case, this time specifically testing the rights of corporations and speech equivalency. It’s important to note that those issues were not part of the case brought by Citizens United.

—->  In other words, the court fabricated an entirely new case focused on issues that were not in contest in the Citizens United case.
That is not supposed to happen.
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And in this fabricated case, the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 vote that corporations have full First Amendment rights.

Let me be clear about this:

—-> The Court majority effectively declared that non-sentient, non-human corporations have all the rights of flesh and blood human beings.
Like you
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Making things worse, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, reaffirmed that money was effectively the same as speech. He declared that the First Amendment doesn’t allow prohibitions of speech even if the speaker is a corporation.

And that started a deluge of corporate money – dark money – into our politics that persists today.

To be sure there were earlier cases that chipped away at our protection from big money influence in our politics, including Buckley v. Valeo, which effectively declared that money is the same as speech. That assertion, of course, is ridiculous.

While money used for a campaign contribution certainly enables speech, that doesn’t make it the same as speech. Indeed, if you follow the Court’s Buckley logic, they’d have you believe that if I use money to buy a car, that money is the same as a car. Utter nonsense.

Money is property that is used in exchange for other things. That doesn’t make it the same as those other things. Nevertheless, the Roberts court wasn’t able to or refused to see the difference and the Citizens United case became the back breaker of integrity in our elections.

Key Point: That decision was driven by John Roberts legislating from the bench in a case that was not even brought before the court by a plaintiff! One has to wonder if this was a predetermined decision he wanted to reach. Otherwise, where did that secondary case come from?

Put a bookmark here.

Professor Heather Cox Richardson reported this in her July 6 edition of Letters From an American:

“Both the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association, the flagship organizations of professional historians in the U.S., along with eight other U.S. historical associations (so far), yesterday issued a joint statement expressing dismay that the six Supreme Court justices in the majority in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision that overturned Roe v. Wade ignored the actual history those organizations provided the court and instead ‘adopted a flawed interpretation of abortion criminalization  .  .  . ‘ “

” ‘[t]hese misrepresentations are now enshrined in a text that becomes authoritative for legal reference and citation in the future, ‘an undermining of the imperative that historical evidence and argument be presented according to high standards of historical scholarship. The Court’s majority opinion…does not meet those standards.’ ” [emphasis mine]

Translation: the Supreme Court ignored evidence that was inconvenient to the decision the justices wanted to make (i.e. overturn Roe). As in the manufactured case derived from the Citizens United law suit, the court clearly had its mind made up to push the doctrines it wanted, irrespective of precedent, facts and even without having a case before it.

And that radicalization is the true danger of this gerrymandered Supreme Court. It appears these justices want to roll back rights and progress 90 – maybe 150 – years.

Are you seeing the pattern yet?

You better see it, because this Court has already invited yet more cases to give them the opportunity to end yet more rights of the people.

For further reading, review Harry Littman’s troubling forecast of Supreme Court malfeasance.

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Special Note: According to an ongoing Gallup survey, public confidence of the Supreme Court has plummeted down to 25%. And this study update was conducted before any of the end-of-term Court decisions were announced, including Dobbs. A fresh study will almost certainly show a sharp drop from the already historically low public confidence in the Court.

A similar drop in confidence is what Justice John Paul Stevens predicted in his blistering dissenting opinion in the Citizens United decision in 2010. As you can see, that is what happened.

Click me for the story

For Nerd Readers

You must read Jeffery Toobin’s explanation of this sordid story in The New Yorker. For a sampling, here’s a section of Toobin’s comments on Justice John Paul Stevens’ dissent in the Citizens United case:

So it was especially galling that the Court converted Citizens United from a narrow dispute about the application of a single provision in McCain-Feingold to an assault on a century of federal laws and precedents. To Stevens, it was the purest kind of judicial activism.

Or, as he put it in his dissenting opinion, “Five Justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.” [emphasis mine] The case should have been resolved by simply ruling on whether McCain-Feingold applied to “Hillary: The Movie,” or at least to nonprofit corporations like Citizens United.

Stevens was just warming up. His dissent was ninety pages, the longest of his career. He questioned every premise of Kennedy’s opinion, starting with its contempt for stare decisis, the rule of precedent. He went on to refute Kennedy’s repeated invocations of “censorship” and the “banning” of free speech. The case was merely about corporate-funded commercials shortly before elections. Corporations could run as many commercials as they liked during other periods, and employees of the corporations (by forming a political-action committee) could run ads at any time.

Stevens was especially offended by Kennedy’s blithe assertion that corporations and human beings had identical rights under the First Amendment. “The Framers thus took it as a given that corporations could be comprehensively regulated in the service of the public welfare,” Stevens wrote. “Unlike our colleagues, they had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individual Americans that they had in mind.” Congress and the courts had drawn distinctions between corporations and people for decades, Stevens wrote, noting that, “at the federal level, the express distinction between corporate and individual political spending on elections stretches back to 1907, when Congress passed the Tillman Act.”

As for Kennedy’s fear that the government might regulate speech based on “the speaker’s identity,” Stevens wrote, “We have held that speech can be regulated differentially on account of the speaker’s identity, when identity is understood in categorical or institutional terms. The Government routinely places special restrictions on the speech rights of students, prisoners, members of the Armed Forces, foreigners, and its own employees.” And Stevens, a former Navy man, could not resist a generational allusion: he said that Kennedy’s opinion “would have accorded the propaganda broadcasts to our troops by ‘Tokyo Rose’ during World War II the same protection as speech by Allied commanders.” (Stevens’s law clerks didn’t like the dated reference to Tokyo Rose, who made propaganda broadcasts for the Japanese, but he insisted on keeping it.)

Stevens’s conclusion was despairing. “At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt,” he wrote. “It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.” It was an impressive dissent, but that was all it was. Anthony Kennedy, on the other hand, was reshaping American politics.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
.
Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Gun Ears


‘You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” – Winston Churchill

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Let’s start with this obvious but enormously powerful basic: Regardless of where we stand, all discussions about guns are loaded with emotional juice, primitive fight-or-flight reactions and mind blanking, logic eliminating passions. We cannot imagine the depth of the stupidity of those who disagree with us.

This is a true “both sides” situation.

Many thanks to Gary Larson for his years of genius exemplified in this Far Side cartoon that just seems to fit our “think-they-know-everythings”

Because of that it’s pretty well impossible to have a thoughtful, logical discussion about guns. Nevertheless, to illustrate my foolishness, I’m going to try just this one time. Plus this other time. Oh, and this one. For more, click on the search box above my pic on the right and search on the word “guns.” BTW, that’s a seagull flying past my nose.

Gun lovers cite the Second Amendment as though that’s all they need to establish their claim that they can keep and bear whatever arms they want. It’s an absolute, they tell us. “What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ is unclear to you?” they ask. Well, there are just a few things about that – here’s a sampling.

First: The reason for the Second Amendment

It was included so that southern states would ratify the Constitution. Basic bribery. Those muskets and militias were for one purpose: to put down slave rebellions. To the best of my understanding, that need no longer exists. That means that amendment is no longer required.

I’m now less confident that another reason for the Second Amendment was because our early government had no money for a standing army, so they needed citizens to be ready if the Brits came back, which they did a dozen years later. Go look it up, if you like.

Second: The “well regulated militia” part

Start buy watching this previously linked video.

The hypothesis in the Second Amendment is, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State .  .  .” Well, the Revolutionary version of a militia has morphed into the National Guard. They are well regulated. There are no other state militias.

And there is no other place for the required regulation (i.e. training) outside of the active duty military, so the rest of the hypothesis for gun ownership according to the Second Amendment no longer exists, either.

Private citizens possessing firearms aren’t members of a real militia, however earnestly some may believe they are, and they aren’t regulated at all. They bear no resemblance to the Second Amendment or to the National Guard.

Read this thread by a vet as he explains the training our military recruits receive – very much like the description in the video above. They are very well regulated. Compare that to the training – regulation – you’d receive if you were to purchase a handgun, hunting rifle or assault rifle at a gun show or from a gun dealer. Or if the 18 year old next door were to buy those firearms. There’s no relationship of that to the intent of the Second Amendment.

Watch this video of former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren Burger as he explains the fraud about the Second Amendment that has been foisted upon the American public by the gun industry.

Third: The “shall not be infringed’ part of the Second Amendment

That does sound like an absolute, but here’s what super conservative, “originalist” Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said about that:

Turns out that the right to keep and bear arms may, in fact, be infringed. It already is. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Fourth: The weapons

Go ahead, hold to originalist thinking. Keep and bear arms exactly as intended by the Founders. Stockpile muskets, balls, powder horns and flintlock pistols. I just don’t want that to be extrapolated to any citizen having the right to have any modern weapon. Today’s weapons are killing machines not even imagined by the Founders.

Fifth: Protection against a tyrannical government

The Second Amendment doesn’t say or imply any such thing. Read it above – that’s the entire Second Amendment. There’s nothing about imagined tyranny done by our government or what to do about it if it were real.

Seriously, is some bunch of camo-wearing guys skulking through the woods going to overpower our armed forces and topple what they believe to be a tyrannical government or perhaps bend the government to their will? Doesn’t matter. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with any perceived tyranny of our government,

The Gun Ears Part

This is the hard stuff.

I’ve tried to be logical and level headed about this, even as I became more agitated as I wrote. Like I said, this issue is loaded with juice for most of us and I’m no exception. Perhaps it’s time to hear from someone who disagrees with me.

Try this guy. But first, be clear that your challenge is to listen to him all the way through. Maybe listen twice or even three times, seeking solely to understand him and what he has to say. Your job is not to craft your insightful response to prove him wrong or to impugn his intelligence or to give in to becoming angry and resentful. It is simply to understand.

I warn you that this assignment will almost certainly be difficult, but it’s very important. Click on the pic, watch, listen and learn, grasshopper.

Maybe you noticed immediately that this fellow demonstrates my opening point, that gun ownership – keeping and bearing arms – is a very emotional subject.

Yes, I know you can shoot down some of the things he says, including his redirection away from guns in America to the British gun laws and to our drug problems. Yes, I heard his toxic masculinity about what “real men” do and “going down swinging.” Just ignore that stuff and consider that he is earnest in his distrust of government (aren’t you?) and, by the way, he has some ideas worthy of consideration, like hiring unemployed vets to protect kids.

Could you have a conversation with this guy without it turning into a fight, what with Buffalo, Laguna, Uvalde and Tulsa on your mind? Do you have the courage to listen to him while seeking only to understand? I tell you with complete confidence that’s exactly what it will take for us to begin to mend our deep political divide and learn to live with one another.

I have no illusions about converting this guy. What I have is a notion that we all have plenty to learn and we cannot accomplish that task by yelling at one another. That demand for learning and being respectful is on all of us. So is taking action.

Must Reads of the Week

It is critical that we stay clear about what needs to be done. Read Thom Hartmann’s piece on this because this is going to take a while.

And read the Twitter thread of Sean Castin (D-IL 6). The comments below it are worthwhile, too.

Adaptive Quote

From Monika Bauerlein writing in Mother Jones about the likely Roe decision and minority rule:

” .  .  . I thought about how far gone a democracy is when 54 percent of the population support a constitutional right and 28 percent oppose it, yet the 28 percent position wins out.”

The numbers on gun safety/control are far more lopsided than that, with 80 – 90% of us supporting gun safety laws, yet the minority position continues to win out. That’s deadly.

From Reader FL

For those red-staters who proudly believe that it is safer to live in Alabama than in big, bad, dangerous NYC, here are some numbers to chew on:

The 2021 homicide rate in NYC was 5.5 individuals per 100,000 residents.

The 2021 homicide rate in Alabama was 14.2 individuals per 100,000 residents.

Finally, A Little Lighten Up

Watch Stephen Colbert’s Monday scoop on PuppetGate.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution: Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA

 


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Lawn Chairs and You


Ed. note: If this post describes you, this is going to hurt. If it doesn’t describe you, it still applies to a minimum of 36% – 60% of eligible voters. What will we do about that?


We were staggering in our rage and sorrow over 10 grannies, 2 teachers and 19 little kids having been murdered. For most of us it was primarily about the kids. Evolution has hard wired us to protect children, so the wanton slaughter of 9- and 10-year-olds more than rankled us.

And it rankled Christine Emba, too. She’s an opinion writer for The Washington Post and she accurately aimed her blame finger directly at those most responsible for the ongoing American massacre, this in her brilliant piece, You. This Is Your Fault.

For example,

“You, the gun-obsessed minority who lord over our politics and prevent change from being made. You, who mumble “thoughts and prayers” but balk at action.

“You, the “shooting hobbyist” or “gun enthusiast” who advocates against gun control because you think anything that makes your weekend amusement even the slightest bit more difficult to participate in is not to be borne.

“You, the performative patriot who believes that background checks, age limitations, training requirements — any reasonable regulations that could help keep people safe — are insufferable limitations on your freedom.

“You, the sophist who says “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” as if those people aren’t killing others using guns, as if it isn’t obvious that the havoc they wreak would be much reduced had they not been given easy access to weapons of mass murder.”

She goes on unsparingly and correctly, but I think there’s a missing step in her logic. You can see it clearly by recognizing that We The People want serious steps to be taken to protect us. For example, 80 – 90% of Americans want universal background checks on the sale or transfer of all firearms and it’s been in that range at least since Sandy Hook. How is it, then, that nothing has happened to deliver what we want?

Note: As this is being written a watered down gun safety bill that will accomplish very little is slow-poking its way through Congress. It is legislation that is carefully crafted not to offend gun “enthusiasts” and will protect almost nobody. Still, it’s a first step. Who knows? Maybe our school kids will live long enough to see a second step.

The answer to why We The People don’t get what we want is that we keep electing toadies who make sure that nothing happens that might upset their “base”. But that begs the question of why we elect those people, which gets to the core or our national problem.

Angry people and extremists take action – they vote. The not-so-angry people are less motivated. They vote in pathetically low numbers. Roughly 36% of eligible voters don’t vote in presidential elections and it’s often much worse than that. About 60% of voters blow off mid-term elections and very few bother with primary elections. That puts a lot of power into the hands of angry extremists who show up and vote.

They show up in big numbers relative to their overall size. They overwhelm the votes of the lazies and thereby get their way.
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That’s how the extremist, Trump sucking candidates win elections.
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Translation: the voices of the extremists drown out the rest of us because the rest of us couldn’t be bothered to get up off our butts and vote.

So, to use Emba’s introductory words and mimic her style,

” .  .  .  someone is to blame.

“But who?

“You. It’s your fault.”

You, the self-focused, who are unwilling to look beyond yourself to the grave harm being done all around you.

You, who can’t be bothered to register to vote because it’s a nuisance and, besides, there are millions of others taking care of that voting thing.

You, for whom Roe isn’t a big deal, so you don’t make your voice heard about the outright assault on all women.

You, who think voting rights are important, but you sit mute, as tens of thousands of our fellow citizens are having their right to vote stripped from them in Republican controlled states, resulting in stolen elections.

You, who think global warming is going to be a problem for our children and grandchildren. You worry, too, about our fellow citizens today who suffer and die from monster tornadoes and from once-in-a-century hurricanes that now happen every year, and from our forest fire “season” that lasts all year. But you sit in silence on election day.

You, who hear the horrid lies mouthed by self-serving, self-justifying traitors to democracy and all you can muster is a shake of your head and a click on the TV remote.

You, who sit immobilized as Otero County in New Mexico has become first in the nation to officially overturn the will of We The People, using bogus claims, lies and fraud. And you know that more counties and states will follow the fraudulent pretense, “If we didn’t win, then somebody cheated, so we’re officially claiming victory for our side.” And still you stay home on election day.

Again, if that’s not you, that’s great. But our problem is the passivity of at least 36% of eligible voters in some presidential elections and about 10% more than that in most. That skews outcomes in a self-destructive direction. Roughly 60% don’t show up for mid-term elections and it’s worse for primaries. These people remain idle as our rights and our very way of life are being stolen from all of us. It’s like sitting meekly on a lawn chair watching burglars empty your house and load your stuff into a moving van.

Those voices calling you to register, to vote, to contribute, to rally and more are telling you to take action now, because if you don’t, the angry extremists will not only empty your house of all you hold dear; they will take your entire house and your lawn chair, too.

We are in this terrible fix, where millions believe huge volumes of stupid stuff, including “1776 Returns,” where violence is declared to be okay in pursuit of what they individually and delusionally want, this at the expense of all the rest of us. The angry extremists are doing to our country the kinds of cruelties and injustices that King George III did and against which our Founders rebelled. Worse, our criminal faux-patriot wannabees are going to have their way, taking all your stuff and your house, unless you get off that damn lawn chair.

Thomas Paine spoke to his contemporaries, imploring them to patriotism for their birthing nation. His words live on today, but be clear that they are not for the January 6 criminals or their millions of sympathizers, who try to usurp them. Paine’s words are for you and me.

Click me for the GoodReads page

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution: Fire the bastards!.

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right (IT’S A FREEBIE!). And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. Be sure to add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

DO SOMETHING! – Part 2


Gov. Abbott press conference in Uvalde, TX. Click the pic for the story.

Gov. “Bang-Bang” Abbott of the Shooting Gallery of Texas said he was livid at his press conference following the Uvalde massacre, this because he didn’t get the full, straight story about police actions, if there were any. His cops and his hand picked public safety officials had essentially snow jobbed him, he told us. Of course, we understand anger over not getting a straight story, because most of the time it’s impossible for us to get a straight story from Abbott. That makes lots of people livid.

If he’s livid it may be because this time he got caught as an accessory to the murders of school kids by a really well equipped, Texas authorized shooter. You know, body armor, two AR-15s and lots of ammo, stuff that Abbott wants troubled 18 year olds to have. Of course, Abbott didn’t have what it takes to give us the straight story about that. What we know is that he was livid about looking foolish, mouthing bad information – so very sad for his ego. He gave no indication that he was livid about 19 dead kids and 2 dead teachers. In fact, when he told us he was livid they were still trying to identify those little corpses and eventually had to resort to DNA matching, but he didn’t mention that.

Still, right then and there Abbott promised mental health services for survivors in Uvalde. That’s great, because those people are hurting terribly. It will be generations before the people of that town get over this catastrophe, if, indeed, those folks ever do.

It’s wonderful that Gov. Abbott is promising mental health assistance right there in Texas, which ranks 4th in the nation in prevalence of mental illness, but last in access to care. Plus it’s going to be tougher and extra awful for the suffering people of Uvalde, because Abbott can’t possibly provide the help he bragged about. That’s because he recently chopped the state budget for mental health services by $211 million. It seems we’re back yet again to that business of not being able to get a straight story from Gov. Greg Abbott.

Besides his phantom mental health support, it’s noteworthy that last year Abbott boasted of having signed at least 7 new laws making it easier for Texans to get guns, including one that allows people to carry handguns without a background check, without training and without a permit. Just buy, load and go. More recently he urged Texans to buy more guns because a report said that there were more guns in California than in Texas. Gotta love his competitive spirit. Bang bang.

All of that is in the wake of 23 shoppers killed at a Walmart in El Paso, 10 kids killed in their school in Santa Fe and 26 churchgoers shot dead in Sutherland Springs. Now 19 kids and 2 teachers in Uvalde have been murdered. Read this and this if you want to understand how deeply objectionable this guy is and exactly why people like you and dead gun victims simply don’t matter to him.

I pick on Gov. Abbott for several reasons, chief among which is that he deserves it. I want to be bigger about this, but the truth is that I enjoy verbally beating the snot out of this guy – or any guy – who’s all about promoting himself in the face of the ghastly price paid by others for his bravado. He’s a placeholder for all the “real man” chest thumpers and the “my rights and my freedom” guys who still have not figured out that there are a lot of other people just beyond their noses who also have rights.

Like the right to not get murdered. We’d like for our kids to have the right to stop having to do active shooter drills and for our elderly loved ones to have the right to go shopping without it being a death defying act. We’d like for all the you-and-me regular folks to have the right to go to the entertainment district and not get killed by a monster with weapons in his hands made possible by Gov. Greg Abbott and others just like him. I pick on Gov. Abbott because he is a self-righteous tyrant and promoter of death who deserves a verbal thrashing.

We’ll do well to admit that Gov. Abbott and other officials like him, as well as ordinary citizens described in the above paragraphs, are people who we’ll never persuade, so we’ll have to over-power them. That means that way more of us will have to vote.

To our gun culture enthusiasts:
.

I get that having and firing a handgun or hunting rifle or assault rifle is fun. It makes young men and lunatic congressmen and women feel powerful, in charge, important. Gun culture is intoxicating. But here’s the thing: If I care at all about the pleasure you or anyone gets from owning, handling and firing guns, it isn’t even in the same universe as my care for little kids sitting at their desks at schools or grannies shopping or people in church or doctors and nurses at their hospitals.

Your right to own and fire your guns isn’t even remotely as important as our right to life, as described in the Declaration of Independence as an unalienable right. That means that you are not allowed to kill anybody. Your puffed chest Second Amendment right is way behind others’ right to safety.
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Quoting Peggy Hamburg, former FDA commissioner, “If you don’t see the light, you will soon feel the heat.”

Half-size caskets with cartoons for Uvalde kids. Click the pic for the sad story.

.

The day is coming when all of this will be self-evident. Greg Abbott will be long gone, as will Ted Cruz and all the knuckle dragging congressional and state legislative candidates firing or handling guns in their campaign ads. Be clear that I respect the guns – they’re dangerous – but I don’t respect those people.

They’re not protectors from a tyrannical government, nor do they protect us from immigrants or from anyone else. What they do is to endanger We The People every day.

These chest thumpers are not the opponent; they are the enemy of American public safety. Some day they must be defeated.

We can hasten the arrival of that day. Indeed, we must hasten the arrival of that day, because over 100 Americans are dying by gunfire every day.

From DO SOMETHING! – Part One:

What creative ideas do you have to get candidates elected who are bold enough to pass meaningful, sensible laws to protect our children and grannies and church goers and concert and movie attendees and .  .  .  wait .  .  .  that’s all of us.

Which candidates will you phone bank for? Will you send out election reminder post cards? How about kicking in a few bucks to a congressional candidate in a swing state? You can even do something to elect state legislature candidates who think my little granddaughter and other school kids shouldn’t have to do active shooter drills. Here’s a link to The States Project. These folks are all about that and you can make a difference that just might keep people from getting killed.

Remember: To Fire the bastards! (see below) we have to replace them with good guys. That’s about promoting the right people and voting. That’s on us.

Key Words: DO SOMETHING!
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Like March For Our Lives – June 11
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Click the button to be directed to the closest march to you.
.

Marches Near You!

June 11 – BE THERE!

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Must Reads

How Greg Abbott and Under 4 Percent of Texans Are ruining the State for the Rest of Us

The Epidemic of Mass Shootings is Neither Inevitable Nor Unsolvable

He Did Not Act Alone

Post Script

After little kids and grannies were massacred, after dozens of concert attendees were mowed down, after multiple murders in churches, synagogues and mosques, how can it be that there is any political resistance at all to laws to protect us from these killing machines and from homicidal maniacs?

What has happened to us such that we know what to do and yet steadfastly refuse to do it?

Have no misunderstanding, no fog of ignorance: This is a test. It is a test of who and what we care about, what we value, what is precious to us. The answer to the single test question is not yet another string of hollow platitudes or another chest thumping, self-serving speech. The question is critical. I fear the answer.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution: Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Freedom


Freedom – n. the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint; the power of self-determination attributed to the will – Apple Dictionary, v 2.3.

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Freedom of Speech

I’m an American living in America and the First Amendment says,

                                                   Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [emphasis mine]

That’s it. Couldn’t be plainer. It’s expressed in absolute terms. That means that I can say what I want to say, when I want to say it, to whom I want to say it and in any way I want to say it and no government can stop me, muzzle me or inhibit me from saying what I want. That’s what it says, right?

Well, it looks that way, but because we live in this society together, this amendment isn’t absolute. Neither are the rest of them. We’ve decided that there must be exceptions for our mutual safety and for other reasons.

For the past 10 months there’s been discussion about incitement to riot. That’s an example of a restriction on freedom of speech being necessary to protect people and property from being harmed, in this example, by a mob, as happened on January 6, 2021.

Speeches were delivered to thousands at the Ellipse on January 6  by John Eastman, author of the infamous insurrection memo, Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), the disgraced, twice-impeached former President of the United States and more. Following those fiery speeches the mob injured people, killed people and desecrated the Capitol Building, inflicting enormous damage.

Those speeches, that incitement happened, even though any reasonable person would know that such speech would likely incite the mob to cause harm to others. There is a law against that and it’s possible that charges of incitement to riot may be filed against these speakers for their dangerous, unlawful exercise of actually-not-free speech.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) is a White nationalist, neo-Nazi loving, Holocaust denial congressman who is so unhinged that several of his siblings have been outspoken critics of him and have urged voters to vote against him. His tweeted anime of him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocaso-Cortez (D-NY) and attacking President Biden with swords at last got him censured in the House and he was stripped of his committee assignments. That’s because he doesn’t have freedom to incite others to violence.

There is a strong sentiment to expel him from Congress. After all, “sharing an image of yourself killing a colleague would get you fired from virtually any job.” But this got worse. Right after being censured, Gosar delivered a clear statement of his lack of contrition by re-tweeting that dreadful, hateful, murderous anime. This guy isn’t just bad news; he’s dangerous, unrepentant bad news.

As bad, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced that if the Republicans regain control of the House following the 2022 elections, that he as Speaker will reinstate Gosar to his committee assignments. Sadly, I’m not surprised, as McCarthy has yet again tacitly endorsed violence.

207 Republicans voted against censure. Effectively, they were saying that threatening colleagues with violent death is okay with them. That’s our national leadership sending exactly the wrong message to our country in these perilous times. They are telling already angry people that committing violence is an okay remedy for whatever their dissatisfaction might be.

There is a lot of violent speech happening now. It’s coming from the mouths of hateful, dishonest cable blabbers. Ordinary citizens are calling for violence, a civil war and murdering Democrats. I don’t know if there are limitations on speech for all of that, but again, a reasonable person would know that such speech is likely to cause harm to others, just like yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theater that isn’t on fire.

All of this makes me worry whether our few sensible limitations on freedom of speech have or will become completely ignored, allowing some to incite to violence those who would do us and our democracy harm, like braying the Big Lie to upend our democracy. That incitement is already happening.

Non-White Freedom

That’s an oxymoron.

Just ask Ahmaud Arbery. Or Freddie Gray. Or Trayvon Martin. Or Jacob Blake. Or George Floyd. Or .  .  .  oh, wait. You can’t ask them because they were all unarmed, doing nothing wrong and they were murdered.

Still looking for that “liberty and justice for all” thing. The 400-year-long search continues.

The Courts and Freedom

Here’s another take on freedom in a piece by Linda Greenhouse, What Happens When a Court Goes Rogue? Answer: Freedom gets pummeled into something insubstantial and we are left at risk of very bad things happening.

For that you can thank Mitch McConnell, who blocked hundreds of federal court appointments for the entire eight years Obama was president. That left hundreds of judicial benches vacant that Trump then filled, all without any oversight, putting extremists, cranks and incompetents into positions to decide our most important and sensitive issues.

Both the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court are making judicial decisions that are unworthy of our Constitution and unworthy of us and which are removing one freedom after another from We The People. Their decisions will stick if we allow such behavior to continue, because,

The behavior you tolerate is the behavior you get.

People Need To Be Free

The Latin Grammy Awards were awarded on November 18 in Las Vegas and it was quite the spectacle. Most notable were the awards for the best song of the year and the best urban song. Both of those awards went to the artists of one piece: Patria Y Vida – “Homeland and Life.” It is a collaboration done by Cuban musicians in exile and is a protest against the repressive Cuban regime. It is in support of the freedom protests going on right now on streets all over that island.

In all the years of human existence there has never been a people who didn’t want to be free. That stands in stark opposition to the ever-present power mongers who seek to limit the freedom of others and dominate them. But the people will not tolerate that domination and the repression of their lives forever. That’s what is behind the protests in Havana and Tehran and Hong Kong and Ferguson and Kenosha and St. Paul and Portland and elsewhere. People want to be free. People need to be free.

Here’s part of what one of the music collaborators had to say in accepting the awards:

“And to my mother who told me, son, have courage to do what my generation couldn’t.

“But mommy, it is you who has courage to allow your kids to fulfill their dreams. I dedicate this Grammy to all the Latina mothers in the world who fight for the dreams of their children. To a free Cuba!”

It falls to all we moms and dads to fight for the dreams of our children, to fight against those who would use violence to suppress us, those who would lie and cheat and steal our freedom away from us so that their little minority can dominate and suppress us.

Right now they are stealing our power of representation through gerrymandering and stealing our voices from the ballot boxes. And they will win unless we who love freedom stand and fight the good fight, because the thieves are cunning and brutal and determined.

That’s why this fight is never over. Enlist now.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A Movie Message For . . .


Senate Republicans who hold hostage this nation and the world, solely for their own political benefit

The people who show up at school board meetings to be verbally abusive and hateful

Those who tear down mobile Covid test stations

Those who abuse healthcare workers

Those who shout down doctors and scientists

Those who refuse vaccines, regardless of their reasons

Those who attack others who wear a mask

Those who give credence to conspiracy spouters

Those who manipulate truth into lies solely to get viewers and clicks

Those who try to intimidate parents as they walk their kids to and from school

Those who seek to marginalize people, especially politicians crushing people’s rights

The screamers at town hall meetings

The political delusionists who explain away clearly illegal, immoral behavior with absurd fictions

Those who threaten and intimidate election officials and volunteers

Those who attempt to disrupt vaccination centers

Those who vote for politicians who act to take rights from others

Just get this: As you deny the reality that is right before you and as you hurt others, you’re hurting yourself. And your kids. And your parents and sisters and brothers and friends and neighbors from sea to shining sea.

The only people who benefit from your actions are people who don’t give a damn about you. They’re just using you to get what they want and would sell you out for a nickel.

They’ll never respect you until you respect yourself.

This message comes to you from the 1987 film Moonstruck. In the clip below, you are the Nicholas Cage character on the right. The rest of us are Cher’s character, speaking to you from the heart.

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Note: In composing this post it was dispiriting to recognize how easy it was to come up with the list above. Sadly, we see this stuff every day.

Special January 6 Commission Q & A

Q: Is contempt of Congress a violation of the law?

A: Yes

Q: Is obstruction of justice a violation of the law?

A: Yes

Q: Is failing to produce records subpoenaed by Congress both contempt of Congress and obstruction of justice?

A: Yes

Q: Is there any reason not to refer Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino (wherever he’s hiding) and Kash Patel for criminal prosecution?

A: No

Q: Do the Democrats in Congress have the cojones to refer these miscreants for criminal prosecution?

A: Maybe

Q: Does the Justice Department have the cojones to prosecute these bums?

A: Maybe

Q: If the roles were reversed and Republicans were investigating an insurrection associated with the Democratic Party and 4 witnesses ignored their subpoenas, what would the Republicans do?

A: They would have those guys in jail so fast they’d have to do a perp run instead of a perp walk.

Q: Has the Democratic Party learned its lesson about failing to be bold and recognized that they must do what must be done?

A: Hope springs eternal, but it ain’ no strategy for success.

————————————
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up. Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Lessons


The Playground Lessons

When I was a kid the grown ups let me know when I behaved improperly and the messages were always very clear and compelling. That didn’t mean that I never did whatever-it-was again, but it did mean that I knew the rules and did whatever-it-was less and less often. I saw other kids learning that same hard way, too. “Betcha grown ups don’t get in trouble that way,” I thought, because, well, they’re grown ups.

Wrong.

Some didn’t learn their lessons,

like the huge community of Trumpist liars who never quite got the message that it isn’t okay to lie.

like the self-certain conspiracy theory followers who use their self-righteousness to bully others, even though they were taught on the playground not to bully.

like the rule benders who victimize others with their barely legal discrimination and hateful suppression.

like the shameful cowards who don’t stand up for what they know is right and don’t stand against what they know is wrong.

There are lots more, of course, but the point is that becoming an adult doesn’t guarantee anyone will leave childhood wrongdoing behind, even though we all know that it should. Some carry around their brattiness like a badge of honor all their lives and hone their skills with pride. They refuse to learn their lessons and you can see that any day in Congress and hear it constantly from the mouths of political blatherers. They all wear adult bodies, but inside some are just bratty kids from the playground.

Go tell their moms on them. Then they’ll be in trouble.

The Government Lesson

President Ronald Reagan famously and repeatedly said, “Government isn’t the solution to the problem; government is the problem.” That was an odd thing to say for a guy wanting to run government.

Surely, Reagan found a useful campaign tool in making government a boogie man. He gave people something to blame for their problems. He stoked the fires of discontent for his own benefit and left the resulting carnage to others. We are living in that carnage right now.

In contrast, President Biden now has our vaccination program humming along at over 2 million poked arms per day. We’re rapidly on our way to beating this horrible virus and restoring our more normal lives, all because government is the solution.

There are some things that even rugged American individualists cannot do on their own. That’s why we have government. Government is why we’re able to roll up our shirtsleeves and get vaccinated. That’s why Biden is decisively proving Reagan wrong. Because it turns out that government wasn’t the problem; Reagan was.

The Texas Lesson

Governor Greg Abbott issued an imperial proclamation that mask wearing is no longer required and all businesses in Texas are free to open fully as of today. That’s more than odd, given that it’s obvious that we have not defeated the coronavirus pandemic.

Worse, there are multiple mutant strains of the virus that are accelerating infections across the nation. They are more efficient in their transmission, meaning that we infect one another with even less exposure than from the original coronavirus. Worse yet, they are more serious and perhaps more deadly to humans. Surely, Governor Abbott knows this. So, why would he put Texans at mortal risk? I think I know.

Abbott knows that eliminating the mask mandate and opening up the state for full interpersonal viral transmission will result in massive numbers of Texans becoming gravely ill and many will die. I’m guessing that will affect fewer Democrat voters, as they are likely to wear a mask, Abbott proclamation or not. His order, then, will result in fewer Republican voters, thus helping purple Texas go Democrat for years to come. I think Abbott is a Democrat in Republican clothing.

Well done, Governor Machiavelli!

The Rights Lesson

Click the pic for a more legible view. Scroll down to the “Feminism vs Corporate Rule” article.

The Politics Lesson

If you want clarity about the realities of your political choices and the future of America, read Sheila Markin’s post here.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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